There are two major red flags in a relationship that should never be ignored. [Note: in my blog post titled ‘Hurt People – Hurt People‘ I only cover the first major red flag.]
The Two MAJOR Red Flags Are:
Physical Abuse (initiated from a man or woman)
Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)
In this blog, I cover the Second Red Flag: Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). If your partner is displaying this fundamental red flag – you should never ignore it! AND walk away immediately.
Because you cannot help a person with this type of personality disorder.
They will end up hurting you – AND you can never heal them.
A person with NPD has a system of trapping their victims through a gradual indoctrination process.
However, for this intimate relationship to take place, it also requires another qualifier – that is, you have to be susceptible to it.
Here’s what you can expect from this post: I’ll explain what an NPD is, how a person may be susceptible to their trap, how to set clear boundaries, and how to manage your expectations of them.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)
We’ve all heard some version of the tale of a Greek mythical character called Narcissus, a hunter known for his beauty and for his love of everything beautiful. He was proud and felt others were unworthy of him. The myth goes that Narcissus fell in love with his own reflection in the water. He was so fixated with himself that he died there in his own admiration. In that spot, a flower grew called narcissus.
An Austrian Psychoanalyst, Robert Waelder, first described this personality in 1925. Several decades later it was recognized as a personality disorder which brought about the term Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) in 1968.
Before I go any further, I want to first highlight that personality trait means that an individual’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are firmly established – regardless of the situation – their personality trait is consistently displayed over time.
It’s hard to know what a person is truly thinking and feeling sometimes, BUT it’s fairly easy to spot the behavior pattern since that is the outward display of a personality trait.
While there’s no clinical diagnosis for being “narcissistic” – for someone to be considered as having a Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), on the other hand, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) states that at an individual displaying at least 5 of these personality traits (listed below) does qualify as having NPD.
Here is a list of behavior patterns that can be used as telltale signs to know if a person has NPD:
Exaggerate their skills and self-importance,
Disdain for others,
Envy of others and that others are envious of them,
Fixation on fantasies (power, success, intelligence, attractiveness, etc.),
Need for attention,
Need for control,
Complete lack of empathy,
Lack of civility,
Intolerant of others’ views,
Victim (always the one being wronged)
Zero ownership of responsibilities,
Addiction (sex, or porn, or gambling, or alcohol, or drugs, etc.)
***under-responsive when you require engagement from them, but hyper-responsive when their egos feel threaten.
NPD can happen for people who are both introverts and extroverts. In fact, the NPD can be separated into three categories: exhibitionist, closet, and toxic (I’ll go into details about these in another blog post). Now, although NPD is not gendered specific, it has a higher rate of occurrence in men. It typically develops in adolescence or early adulthood.
An alarming majority of the population will phase in-and-out of SOME of the behaviors mentioned above at some point in their life. However, this does not indicate that the individual has this personality disorder. Rather it’s just an indication that society and some workplaces reward some of these behaviors (not all, but some) and so it encourages people in that direction.
That being said…
It’s estimated that about 1% of the population has NPD. One percent is 1 in 100 people. Now, there are an estimated 7.7 billion people living on earth right now; so about 77 million of the world’s population has NPD.
That’s why it’s crucial for you to be cognizant of the telltale signs of NPD so that you don’t one day find yourself in an intimate relationship with this person and planning any kind of life long commitments.
If you’re currently in a relationship with a person with NPD, just know that treatment of people with NPD is nearly impossible because they simply do not consider themselves to have any problem – of any kind.
Additionally, a person with NPD is so extremely hyper-sensitive that they are prone to feelings of shame, humiliation, and worthlessness if they feel criticized or even perceived criticism – let alone defeat their defense mechanism kicks in and they’ll begin to lash out …or withhold – whichever of the two that will hurt you the most in any given situation!
They can lash out either in verbal or physical abuse OR withhold financial contributions as a way of financial abuse. Essentially, a person with NPD is abusive – in every sense of the word.
In a relationship, they have an inability to tolerate being at odds with you. You have to conform to them because they do not tolerate the views of others. Arguments about differences of opinion results in their outbursts of disproportionate rage.
That’s also why it makes it difficult to be in a long term relationship with a person who has NPD. They’re not about to give up their pathological behavior because they themselves don’t see it as wrong.
They’re righteously indignant, insecure sociopaths that will blame you (and/or the world) for their behavior.
In an intimate relationship with an NPD partner, you cannot undertake their healing and make it your life’s mission to effect change in them. Most therapists won’t even attempt it – or they have tried and failed to see any results… which makes the rest of us even less qualified to do so.
Research has shown that there are structural abnormalities in the brains of those with NPD in the prefrontal cortex with reduced gray matter. To no surprise, this region is associated with empathy, compassion, emotional regulation, as well as cognitive functions.
And so with all of this, why take on this challenge of being in a relationship with someone who has NPD?
Is it for love?
Well, a person with NPD does not have the capacity to love – not in the way that true love is defined.
What’s true love?
True love generates feelings of warmth, security, adoration, bliss, and genuine happiness.
It’s absolutely wonderful when the feelings are mutual because you can build a healthy and long-lasting relationship on that foundation. However, that’s not possible with an NPD partner.
In the beginning, as with all relationships, the spark is there. However, that sparks wears off quicker than you think through gradual indoctrination. Pretty soon those feelings of love will fade.
So what keeps you in a relationship with someone who has NPD longer than needed.
It’s your susceptibility to their trap…
Are You Susceptible To Their Trap?
At the onset, everyone is somewhat susceptible to some of the traits of an NPD’s, because after all – aren’t they seeking your approval and attention?
They ask you a lot of questions and get to know you really well. They also tell you stories of the things you want to hear. The lying starts from the very beginning and it seeps into almost every conversation. But in the beginning, when you first met someone it’s very hard to tell the reality from the fake. They’ll boast a ton about how they (or someone they know and is associated with) is “larger than life.” They’re making a first impression with you so their charm, confidence, and charisma are in high gear as they project their sense of grandiosity, self-importance, and entitlement onto you.
But what draws a person with NPD to you? AND why do some of us stay after the signs manifest?
A person with NPD isn’t drawn to you because you’re “weak” and “vulnerable” – even though they endeavor to leave you in that condition.
Rather a person with NPD is actually drawn to you because you’re successful, warm, and likable!
Remember they have an inflated ego – so to them, you’re worthy to be associated with them and you make them look good. That’s why they target you and pursue you for a relationship.
Not only that, but you pose a greater challenge for them because you have a lot going on for yourself and they thrive on dismantling it all and watching you crumble.
OK – so then what makes a person susceptible to stay after seeing the signs? Before I get into that, I want to mention that nothing ties you to this susceptibility. Unlike the NPD that is resistant to change and self-improvement, a person’s susceptibility to the traps of the NPD is entirely treatable!
Phew! sigh… of… relief.
There are three categories of NPD and yet regardless of their variation, at their core, there are some fundamentals that exist as a common denominator.
At their core, every person inflicted with NPD has a belief that they’re: not worthy, not enough, and not loveable.
If you yourself believe deep your core that you’re: not worthy, not enough, and not loveable – then you’re susceptible to sticking around with an NPD partner even after you’ve seen red flags.
Let me clarify that these three beliefs are actually fairly common among many people. Even a highly successful person such as yourself.
BUT where on earth did you pick up this belief that you’re not worthy, enough, or loveable? Aren’t you successful in your career and have a good social network?
You likely picked it up during your early childhood or adolescence. It could be that you always had to work hard to earn the love or attention of your parent or caregive. In some cases, it could be that you endured a traumatic event during your early childhood and or in your adolescences.
If proper attention and care aren’t given after prolonged stressful or traumatic event(s) then it’s highly likely that you’ll grow up internalizing it and forming limiting beliefs about yourself.
As an adult, you now have this work and social ethic developed around “working hard” for love and attention. With all these years of approaching love and life from this perspective you’re certain to gain traction in areas such as your career and even your social network of friends.
BUT in your love life, this limiting belief that you’re not worthy, enough, and loveable will only magnetize to you a partner that will validate that for you.
If you AND your NPD partner are suffering from the SAME limiting beliefs then why does your partner with react so differently? It goes back to the fact that they lack empathy! On the other hand, you’re likely very sensitive to other peoples needs and emotions.
When an NPD person is pursuing you for a relationship, they’re going to “love bomb” you. Love bombing is when you’re getting constant flattery, compliments, affection, promises, being spoiled with gifts, AND the biggest one is they’ll push you into a serious relationship quicker than normal.
For a sensitive person who is very empathetic, this kind of attention is going to feel very good to you! However, I can assure you it’s a facade so my biggest advice is to NOT allow yourself to be rushed into ANY commitments: financial, or creating a family, etc. Another telltale sign is that everything a person with NPD does and expresses is more often than not exaggerated – so notice when that happens.
So again, take note of their:
1) sense of urgency and
I hope so far this is helpful and making sense… Please spare yourself the heartache and trouble while you still can. Before you start a family with this person and before you make any financial investments with an NPD person.
Now if you’re already in a committed relationship with an NPD partner and maybe you have a home and child(ren) together then you’re already very much invested in your relationship and by now you may be fully aware that this relationship is rocky – if not toxic.
In this case, then you’ll want to keep reading to learn about how to set boundaries and manage your expectation.
How To Set Boundaries & Manage Your Expectations
This section is very difficult for me to write because I really just want you to walk away from this person so that you’re protecting yourself, your child(ren), and your assets – if you have these things together.
But I understand that although you may want to leave the relationship, it might not be possible to do so – or at least not right away.
So here’s how you set boundaries and manage your expectations in the meanwhile…
It’s very likely that the sparkle you once experienced at the start of the relationship has already faded. By now, you’ve already gotten a taste of their disdain for you and been a target of their criticism. It’s also likely, that you’re partner has slowly worked on diminishing your views of your own self-worth to the point where you’re beginning to lose your sense of self and identity. AND you feel like you’ve lost your mind because the reality for a person with NPD is wrapped – so not only will this get projected onto you, but you’ve also been slowly inoculated into their altered state of reality.
The limiting beliefs that you hold deep in your subconscious that you’re not worthy, now have attracted you a partner that freely expresses that false belief to your face on a continual basis. You’re constantly belittled and devalued by them. You might even experience being flooded by their text messages, emails, and feel peppered in your conversations with them – this is especially true when you’re in an argument with a person who has NPD.
So here are some of the ways you can reclaim your life and start setting some boundaries:
If you don’t have kids already – stop trying to conceive with them.
Limit, minimize, and/or eliminate the financial investments you two have together. This includes joint accounts. As much as possible – do not be financially reliant on your NPD partner!
Have your own abundance of savings. You don’t need to disclose any of this to your partner.
Keep written records of everything. All the abusive emails, text messages, etc, AND don’t share this with them – just have it for your own records.
Ensure you have your own phone and computer with secure passwords that they don’t have access to.
Don’t allow yourself to be pulled down the rabbit hole in your arguments. This will only frustrate you more since a person with NPD will blame you for just about everything. You know your truth and you don’t need to prove your self (or your point of view) to them.
Have activities that you do just for you (and maybe with your friends). It should be an activity that you love and it brings you joy.
Have a solid group of your own friends that you do not share with your NPD partner. That doesn’t mean you all can’t hang out, but you have to feel and know that they love and support you.
Confide all the craziness that you’re experiencing in your relationship with your NPD partner with your closest family and friends.
If you decide to start a side business or dive into being an entrepreneur, then do not let your NPD partner have a single thing to do with it.
Do lots of self-care! I don’t mean keep buying yourself a bunch of material things (although, a little retail therapy never hurt anyone ). What I mean is that you have to reclaim your sense of self-worth and know that you’re loveable, you’re enough, and that you have so many strengths. You being you – is a gift on its own to the world! So make sure your self-care includes activities that allow you to look deep within you and help find your true authentic self and then don’t be afraid to express yourself from that place
BELIEVE In Yourself! You’ve probably felt like all your life you had to work hard for gaining credibility. Then you got in a relationship with a person with NPD and they chipped away continually at you gaslighting you and your sense of credibility… Know and believe that you’re talented and that you don’t need to prove yourself to anyone. Just have faith in YOU!
Basically, the gist of setting boundaries and managing your expectations are to:
Separate yourself by way of removing any codependency as much as possible from your NPD partner,
Know that there’s absolutely NOTHING you can do to fix them or alter them – you have to accept this fact,
Find your true authentic-self through lots of self-care,
Have a network of close family and friends that are aware of what you’re experiencing with your NPD partner.
I hope this was helpful! I will be posting much more content on this topic because I can literally drill down on every section of this post even further. Also, I feel like everyone should know these telltale sign and protect themselves and loved ones from an NPD!
And a final take away…
You ARE worthy!
You ARE loveable!
You ARE enough!